German use of Artillery.

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Nodeo-Franvier
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German use of Artillery.

Post by Nodeo-Franvier » 18 Dec 2020 09:19

Artillery is often described as weak point of the Wehrmacht, Why is this so.
Why is German artillery branch so inferior to that of USSR and America?

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Re: German use of Artillery.

Post by Jan-Hendrik » 18 Dec 2020 09:47

Permanent lack of ammo....

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Re: German use of Artillery.

Post by Nodeo-Franvier » 18 Dec 2020 11:06

Jan-Hendrik wrote:
18 Dec 2020 09:47
Permanent lack of ammo....

Jan-Hendrik
Not in early to mid war though.

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Re: German use of Artillery.

Post by Art » 18 Dec 2020 16:08

Nodeo-Franvier wrote:
18 Dec 2020 09:19
Artillery is often described as weak point of the Wehrmacht
By whom and what aspect exactly? There is an old idea that Germany entered WW2 with allegedly Blitzkrieg-oriented army where field artillery was underdeveloped compared with tactical aviation and tanks. In 2020 it can hardly be seen as anything but a myth. In 1939 the German artillery was generally quite adequate and corresponded to contemporary requirements. Further during the war, especially after 1941 it suffered from a lack of tubes (the numbers of artillery pieces stagnated or even decreased), which they tried to compensate with increased amount of ammunition. The use of substandard and captured weapons, especially on the secondary theaters of operations became widespread. German GHQ (non-divisional) artillery was especially weak numerically and attempts to create large artillery units like divisions and corps were belated. Horse traction, especially for heavy pieces, was clearly obsolete. Self-propelled armored artillery saw an appreciable employment, but not on a scale of Western Allies. There was a growing tendency to assign anti-tank tasks to various armored vehicles with high-performance guns and to hand-held rockets, whereas towed anti-tank guns became more and more secondary.
On the other hand the German engineers possessed a definitive expertise in development super-heavy weapons like Dora. Was it really useful is another problem. They also employed some technically advanced ideas like conical bore guns, sub-caliber (APC) and hollow-charge anti-tank ammunition, rocket-assisted projectiles, recoilless guns etc. The German army pioneered wide-scale employment of rocket launchers.

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Re: German use of Artillery.

Post by Sheldrake » 20 Dec 2020 01:10

Art wrote:
18 Dec 2020 16:08
Nodeo-Franvier wrote:
18 Dec 2020 09:19
Artillery is often described as weak point of the Wehrmacht
By whom and what aspect exactly?
There is an old idea that Germany entered WW2 with allegedly Blitzkrieg-oriented army where field artillery was underdeveloped compared with tactical aviation and tanks. In 2020 it can hardly be seen as anything but a myth. In 1939 the German artillery was generally quite adequate and corresponded to contemporary requirements. Further during the war, especially after 1941 it suffered from a lack of tubes (the numbers of artillery pieces stagnated or even decreased), which they tried to compensate with increased amount of ammunition. The use of substandard and captured weapons, especially on the secondary theaters of operations became widespread. German GHQ (non-divisional) artillery was especially weak numerically and attempts to create large artillery units like divisions and corps were belated. Horse traction, especially for heavy pieces, was clearly obsolete. Self-propelled armored artillery saw an appreciable employment, but not on a scale of Western Allies. There was a growing tendency to assign anti-tank tasks to various armored vehicles with high-performance guns and to hand-held rockets, whereas towed anti-tank guns became more and more secondary.
On the other hand the German engineers possessed a definitive expertise in development super-heavy weapons like Dora. Was it really useful is another problem. They also employed some technically advanced ideas like conical bore guns, sub-caliber (APC) and hollow-charge anti-tank ammunition, rocket-assisted projectiles, recoilless guns etc. The German army pioneered wide-scale employment of rocket launchers.
RE your first question. Jonathan Bailey put that argument forward in Field Artillery and Firepower. Bailey's credentials are that he was Director Royal Artillery and MGRA of the ARRC that deployed with Kfor to Kosevo. He speaks fluent German and studied his PhD alongside his friend, and fellow artilleryman two star general David Zabecki, with the late Richard Holmes as tutor.

His opening remarks in the chapter on the Second World war start with the statement that artillery was a neglected arm in 1939, partially because of its associations with the horrors of attritional warfare which were shunned. The theories of armour and mobility flourished in the 1930s as an alternative to the dominance of firepower and the lessons of WW1 were discarded. He argues that the British and Americans had to undergo a complete transformation and while the Germans recognised the need for change but never mustered the resources to reform as they might have wished.

Whatever preparations the Germans made to fight a refight of 1914-1918 dissolved in the euphoria of the success of Blitzkrieg apparently based on tanks and aircraft. The Germans fell behind the western Allies by 1942 and the gap lengthened as the war continued. The Germans had only a fraction of the logistic capability, far fewer radios and target acquisition assets and artillery spotting aircraft. The short lived German 18th Artillery division had a capability to concentrate artillery fire, but nothing that any British or US Army Corps could not do. Nor did the Germans apply radar technology to locate mortars, provide gun-laying for Heavy AA in the field or as proximity fuses.

Artillery considerations seemed to have been ignored by those planning the defences against the cross channel assault. Almost every history mentions the arguments about the employment of armoured reserves, but little reference to the artillery. The decision to employ large numbers of different types of captured equipment in the west multiplied the logistic problems. According to the post war interviews with the artillery commander of 1st SS Panzer Corps there was no provision to support artillery. No preliminary survey of alternative artillery positions inland from the beaches, insufficient 1:25,000 maps of the areas inland where they might have to fight. The German "Panzer Gruppe West" designated to command the mobile reserves lacked its own supply organisation and relied on that of the Seventh Army.

The biggest shortfall was logistics. Horse transport and resupply was inadequate. The Germans could build weird and wonderful super heavy guns, but these were gimmicks. If the Germans had copied and mass produced the the duce and a half I'd be more convinced of their commitment to artillery.

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Re: German use of Artillery.

Post by Max Payload » 21 Dec 2020 11:42

In six years of war when the Germans invested heavily in developing new weaponry, they never seemed to be sufficiently dissatisfied with their artillery arm that they were prepared to invest in replacing or even significantly upgrading their standard divisional pieces. Many Soviet commanders, Sokolovsky perhaps chief among them, found the German use of artillery to be frustratingly effective.

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Re: German use of Artillery.

Post by Art » 25 Dec 2020 21:18

Max Payload wrote:
21 Dec 2020 11:42
In six years of war when the Germans invested heavily in developing new weaponry, they never seemed to be sufficiently dissatisfied with their artillery arm that they were prepared to invest in replacing or even significantly upgrading their standard divisional pieces.
That's arguable to some extent. During the war in armored divisions towed artillery guns were partly replaced with armored self-propelled vehicles. Admittedly not eliminated altogether. There was an attempt to introduce dual purpose field/anti-tank guns in infantry divisions (1944 volksgrenadier divisions in particular), yet it didn't seem to be implemented on a wide scale.

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Re: German use of Artillery.

Post by Thumpalumpacus » 25 Dec 2020 21:31

As I remember, the artilleryman Siegfried Knappe in his memoirs mentions that a good proportion of German arty was horse-drawn. Perhaps they couldn't keep up with the spearheads where the fighting was?

It seems to me that in static positions German tubes earned the respect of their enemies.

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Re: German use of Artillery.

Post by Sheldrake » 26 Dec 2020 02:03

Thumpalumpacus wrote:
25 Dec 2020 21:31
As I remember, the artilleryman Siegfried Knappe in his memoirs mentions that a good proportion of German arty was horse-drawn. Perhaps they couldn't keep up with the spearheads where the fighting was?

It seems to me that in static positions German tubes earned the respect of their enemies.
Two problems with horse drawn transport

1. Horses take a lot of maintenance. They need to be fed and watered every day. Without fodder they suffer and will not perform. The 10.5cm fH18 weighted about 3.5 tons - a six horse team. The medium Howitzer sFH18 weighted 6.5 tons. Ten horse team, and all suffered in a Russian winter.

2. Horse trains have a limited range from a railhead compared to mechanical transport. Horse transport @ 4 mph compared to MT @15 mph.

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Re: German use of Artillery.

Post by Art » 26 Dec 2020 08:52

Thumpalumpacus wrote:
25 Dec 2020 21:31
As I remember, the artilleryman Siegfried Knappe in his memoirs mentions that a good proportion of German arty was horse-drawn. Perhaps they couldn't keep up with the spearheads where the fighting was?
The speed of infantry was limited by marching ability of foot soldiers and horse-drawn vehicles. It was not a pressing need to give them artillery of superior mobility. In some way horses were superior to motor vehicles in mobile warfare, since horse fodder was abundant in the countryside, but gasoline wasn't. In particular, the Soviet experience demonstrated that in many cases horse-drawn artillery kept moving when motorized artillery was left behind for a lack of fuel. As I remember, in 1945 in Poland lend-lease trucks were provisionally exchanged for locally appropriated horses exactly for this reason.

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Re: German use of Artillery.

Post by Art » 26 Dec 2020 11:05

Sheldrake wrote:
26 Dec 2020 02:03
1. Horses take a lot of maintenance. They need to be fed and watered every day. Without fodder they suffer and will not perform. The 10.5cm fH18 weighted about 3.5 tons - a six horse team. The medium Howitzer sFH18 weighted 6.5 tons. Ten horse team, and all suffered in a Russian winter.
Heavy filed howitzers were transported disassembled into two pieces, each towed by a 8-horse team:
https://www.wwiidaybyday.com/kstn/kstn4331mar44.htm
Even on these pics the practice looks a little perverse. It increased the length of columns, increased fodder requirements, placed heavy demands on personnel (8 men were needed as horse drivers for each howitzer). IMO heavy artillery was to be a first priority for motorization.

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Re: German use of Artillery.

Post by Jan-Hendrik » 26 Dec 2020 15:53

And what made it really ineffective?

If you got an Abteilung of heavy french howitzers to strength your Art.Rgt.....but you got only ten rounds per gun for the whole winter campaign (if I remember correctly it was the history of AR 267 where it was pointed out how dramatical the lack of ammo was from winter 1941/42 on).

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Re: German use of Artillery.

Post by Sheldrake » 26 Dec 2020 16:59

Art wrote:
26 Dec 2020 11:05
Heavy field howitzers were transported disassembled in two pieces each towed by 8-horse teams:
https://www.wwiidaybyday.com/kstn/kstn4331mar44.htm
Even on these pics the practice looks a little perverse. It increased the length of columns, increased fodder requirements, placed heavy demands on personnel (8 men were needed as horse drivers for each howitzer). IMO heavy artillery was to be a first priority for motorization.
I cannot recall the source, but some German senior officer wrote that they thought that medium artillery should have been motorised rather than the anti tank guns of non-motorised infantry regiments.

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Re: German use of Artillery.

Post by Sheldrake » 26 Dec 2020 17:07

Jan-Hendrik wrote:
26 Dec 2020 15:53
And what made it really ineffective?

If you got an Abteilung of heavy french howitzers to strength your Art.Rgt.....but you got only ten rounds per gun for the whole winter campaign (if I remember correctly it was the history of AR 267 where it was pointed out how dramatical the lack of ammo was from winter 1941/42 on).

Jan-Hendrik
Eberbach who commanded Panzer Group West was very critical of the limitations of horse transport in Normandy. He wrote that the infantry divisions under his command relied on mechanical transport from the Panzer Divisions for resupply.

I came to the conclusion that allied artillery superiority in Normandy had more to do with German ammunition shortage than allied counter battery.

The evidence from allied war diaries is that German artillery became much more effective towards the end of July, at least on the Caen front. After Op Goodwood Eberbach used the staff and communications of the 16th Luftwaffe Division to manage the logistics of Panzer Group West - which probably allowed the Group to be re-designated as an army.

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Re: German use of Artillery.

Post by Max Payload » 27 Dec 2020 01:22

Art wrote:
25 Dec 2020 21:18
Max Payload wrote:
21 Dec 2020 11:42
In six years of war when the Germans invested heavily in developing new weaponry, they never seemed to be sufficiently dissatisfied with their artillery arm that they were prepared to invest in replacing or even significantly upgrading their standard divisional pieces.
That's arguable to some extent. During the war in armored divisions towed artillery guns were partly replaced with armored self-propelled vehicles. Admittedly not eliminated altogether. There was an attempt to introduce dual purpose field/anti-tank guns in infantry divisions (19s44 volksgrenadier divisions in particular), yet it didn't seem to be implemented on a wide scale.
That is true, but the number of AFVs produced for indirect artillery fire was relatively small compared to AT and assault gun AFVs.
Also the barrels used tended to be the standard 10.5 and 15cm pieces.
The VGDs were equipped with the FK 40 gun where it was available. But even that was essentially a Pak 40 on a modified carriage to allow elevated fire.

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